Kelly Hauge and Scott Mittness from the Kerkhoven Fire Department was at this week’s Kerkhoven City Council meeting to ask permission to hold a street dance on the Friday night of Town and Country Days. They asked the city to approve closing off a street. The council was in agreement with that, Mayor Brian Thompson said but are checking on insurance. They want to check to make sure the insurance they have for Town and Country Days would also encompass this since alcohol will be served. The city gave its preliminary blessings and will know more at their next meeting.
The Alexandria city engineer reported on activities with the highway department and the highway committee when the city council met this week. City Administrator Jim Taddie says the state is revising the municipal state aid program and as a result the city needs to designate various routes in the city. They had 20 resolutions designating those various routes within the community.
The Litchfield School District is hoping to launch their new web page within the next month. Supt. Dan Fraiser says this will be a more interactive web page they believe will do a better job of serving the students and parents in the community.
The first winner of Pay it Forward, Stevens County has been named. Clarence Lanus is a long-time bus driver in the Morris School District and was nominated by a student who rides his bus. Pay it Forward, Stevens County is an organization that hopes to recognize individuals in the county who are working to help others. Lanus was nominated by Alexis Lhotka, a third grade student at St. Mary's School. In her nomination letter, Lhotka writes: "Clarence is a great bus driver and a wonderful example to all the kids he drives bus for. He is very caring and goes out of his way everyday to help kids. He deserves the award because every day with every kid he Pays it Forward.’
Friday, March 13th, the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is spending the day at the Capitol. Representative Mary Sawatzky says they’ll be hearing from Representative Paul Marquardt, the education/finance chair, about the world’s best workforce and how we are getting our young people into that workforce. Sawatzky said they’ve been reminded again about our aging population and with the retirements that will be coming in the next few years they don’t have enough people to fill the jobs that need workers. In committee this week they heard from a technology company regarding technology changes for his company. Sawatzky says technology is changing so much that from semester to semester the curriculum has to change. It’s a fast paced world and that’s the way it’s going with technology.
Due to the final stage in construction, the Kandiyohi County Historical Society Museum in Willmar will be closed March 6-March 11. They will re-open on March 12.
The farming community is enjoying its longest boom cycle in a century but needs to be aware of factors that could change it. Dr. Dave Coe of Virginia Tech, spoke to the Farm Business Management group in Morris Wednesday. Dr. Coe says there are trends producers need to follow when monitoring the health of the farm economy including growth of emerging nations, low interest rate from the Federal Reserve, and the continuation of bio-fuel policies. Dr. Coe, a dairy farmer and professor at for Virginia Tech for 35 years, spoke to 150 farm producers at the Old Number One Southside.
Schools are spending too much money on energy, says Elbow Lake Democrat Jay McNamar. And part of the problem is the aging buildings and heating and cooling systems now in use. McNamar has written a bill to fund energy improvement projects across the state, and he says school administrators are already contacting him to sign-up. The bill calls for an initial fund of $3 million. The money will be borrowed to schools at a low interest rate.
Students and community members will be gathering at Morris Area Elementary School this afternoon, (Friday) to talk about having dream careers. The convocation will be part of Morris' Dare Mighty Things Day--a day set aside to explore future possibilities. Elementary Principal Ken Gagner says students will be sharing essays about dream careers and so will several area adults. The Kindergarten through 6th grade gathering starts at 2:15 in the Concert Hall. The event is open to the public.
An elected Stevens County Official is still waiting for his day in court, after filing an appeal on January 14th. Auditor-Treasurer Neil Wiese is appealing his 2013 salary established by the Board of Commissioners and the budget set by that board for the Office of the Auditor-Treasurer. The appeal alleges the board acted in an "arbitrary, capricious, oppressive…" manner when setting the salary and budget. Wiese will appear in Swift County court on March 7 for a scheduling conference. If his appeal is successful, the court will order the Stevens County board to review his budget and salary and reconsider their previous decision.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds interested participants that the spring conservation action on “light” geese (snow geese, blue-phased snow geese, and the smaller Ross’s goose) will open today (Friday) and run through April 30th. A spring light goose permit is required and may be obtained through any DNR license agent, via telephone or online. The $3.50 application fee covers the cost to issue the permit. No other license, stamp, or permit is required. Most regulations in place during the fall waterfowl season also will apply during the spring season, including nontoxic shot requirements and federal baiting regulations. In addition, all refuges closed to either duck or goose hunting during fall seasons will remain closed during the spring season. Shooting hours are one half-hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset. No daily or possession limits apply. Electronic calls and unplugged shotguns are allowed.
The February budget forecast released shows a projected budget deficit of $627 million for fiscal years 2014-15, an improvement of $463 million from the November budget forecast that showed a projected deficit of $1.1 billion. Representative Andrew Falk of rural Murdock says while he’s thankful for the improvement, they still have a lot of work to do. He says there has been a structural imbalance for the better part of ten years and he really appreciates Governor Dayton’s efforts to take a comprehensive look at how we collect revenues in the state and how they spend those resources. He said it’s going to require people to have an honest conversation about what type of services they want and how we pay for those. He says he appreciates the fact we’re moving in the right direction but they still have work to do.
Representative Mary Sawatzky says there has been a lot of things they need to continue to talk about. She says they need to work on refining things, changing things, building roads, and bridges, taking care of the infrastructure and taking care of education. She said those are the first and foremost things that are on her mind and with the projected deficit looking better there is still work to be done. She asks for constituents to weigh in on how they feel that should be done.
According to the Meeker County Sheriff's Facebook page, all their patrol deputies have completed the TEMPO (Tactical Emergency Medicine Peace Officer) training program developed by Dr. Jeffrey Ho. TEMPO training offers police a chance not only to practice in real-life situations but to also develop their reaction skills. Hennepin County Medical Center Physician Jeff Ho and Hennepin EMS paramedic Rob Snyder created the TEMPO training course to offer specific medical training for officers by simulating high-stress situations. Before this training existed, officers were confined to a classroom for their medical training. TEMPO training offers police a chance not only to practice in real-life situations but to also develop their reaction skills.
The jury trial for 21 year old Esequiel Gomez Jr. of Willmar has been moved to May 30th, with a hearing on May 23rd. He appeared in Kandiyohi County District Court yesterday (Thursday) and asked the judge for more time to come up with more witnesses. Gomez is charged with first degree felony criminal sexual conduct. Gomez, who is also charged with the murder of an elderly woman in Texas in August of 2011, remains in the Kandiyohi County Jail on a $1 million unconditional bail.
19 year old Martin Bravo Jr. of Willmar was sentenced in Kandiyohi County District Court Wednesday on a felony charge of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. He was sentenced to 115 days in the Kandiyohi County Jail, given credit for serving 115 days, and put on supervised probation for five years. The judge also ordered that he have no contact with females under the age of 18, and that he complete a chemical assessment.
According to the Willmar Police Department they’re once again seeing phone scams that continue to victimize the elderly. The most common is the "Grandparent Scam" where a caller will claim to be a grandchild. If it happens to you or a relative you should resist the urge to act immediately to a call for help; attempt to contact a family member for verification; verify their identity through questions, but don't provide the answers. They also may ask about a sibling they don't have, and never wire money. If you have questions call the Willmar Police Department at 235-2244.
The New London Legion Auxiliary National President Peggy Thomas will visit the New London American Legion Tuesday afternoon at 2:30. The Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion are encouraged to attend.
Representative Dean Urdahl of rural Grove City says the state is headed in the right direction, and the economic forecast shows they can balance the budget for the short term and set themselves up for the future without having to raise excessive taxes. The key, he says, is for the governor and the new Democratic majorities to set a budget which falls within the projected three percent rate of revenue growth that’s expected. Urdahl says they eliminated the $5 billion shortfall of two years ago, paid off the entire K-12 shift from 2011and a sizeable portion of the delayed K-12 funding enacted by the previous Democrat majority and Governor Pawlenty, plus they’ve made great strides in replenishing previously depleted reserve accounts.
Senator Lyle Koenen says the new budget forecast is a positive sign that Minnesota’s economy is experiencing a fragile recovery. The state seems to be heading in the right direction, he says, however, the improved forecast number doesn’t change the fact there remains a significant budget deficit of $627 million in Minnesota. Koenen says by the end of the year, Minnesota will be back to pre-recession levels in job creation; the rest of the country won’t get there until nine months later. In coming weeks, Koenen says, its vitally important that legislators roll up their sleeves and find compromise on a fair and honest budget solution that will end our cycle of budget deficits and set Minnesota on the path to continued fiscal stability.